Recipe by Triad to Wellness Consulting – Photo Courtesy of Kristen Massad
Perfect, Protein-Packed Salads
It’s salad season! While we like a good side salad, we LOVE a salad that is filling enough for it to be considered an entire meal. This means that it must be packed with nutrient-dense ingredients that contain protein, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and of course a delicious dressing. Our Colorful Quinoa Pecan Salad is a colorful, flavorful, energy-boosting, vitamin and mineral packed dish that is filled with fresh produce and is perfectly gluten-free and vegan. Like other grains, quinoa is high in fiber and iron, but unlike others, it is also high in plant-protein; it is a hearty powerhouse of nutrition and fuel. We use tricolor quinoa in our recipe, not only because is has a pretty color, but also because it has a more crunchy consistency and even contains a few more nutrients than white quinoa. There are so many delicious flavors and textures happening in this salad–the sweetness of mango, the fresh crunch of cucumber, the earthy sweet beets, plus the refreshing tastes of cilantro and lime–all help to balance the natural bitterness from the grain. And to give a little more complexity to this already healthy meal, we add pecans and hemp seeds for extra protein, fiber, and crunch. We think of quinoa as its own little superfood which makes our Colorful Quinoa Pecan Salad as super a meal as they come!
Nutrient Booster: Quinoa
Quinoa is a gluten-free grain crop that is high in plant-protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is considered a superfood because its health benefits extend beyond the essential vitamins and minerals. This grain boasts impressive amounts of plant antioxidants which have been shown to promote anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and anti-depressant effects. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make it a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. Quinoa also has a high fiber content which can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and increase feelings of fullness. This grain may just be one of the world’s healthiest foods and is a valuable dietary source of plant-protein for those following a plant-based diet.
Simple Ingredient Substitutions
We love a salad that contains whole grains, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats–a complete meal to provide lasting energy, vitamins and minerals, plus fiber to keep you feeling full. There are so many simple ingredient substitutions you can make to our recipe, without sacrificing its nutritional value. Not a quinoa fan? Try freekeh, sorghum, whole grain rice, or farro. Don’t like cucumber? Our Asparagus with Lemon Skyr would be a tasty replacement. Mango isn’t your favorite? Feta and mozzarella pair well with beets, but if you are looking for a dairy-free option, skip the cheese and throw in some beans or chickpeas. Want to bulk up your salad? Top it over our Spinach and Grilled Apricot Salad, our Chard Salad with Carrots, Beets and Sunflower Seeds or toss in some arugula. Instead of pecans, try adding Pizootz peanuts or almonds to the mix or sprinkle on some SuperSeedz pumpkins seeds. Whether you follow our delicious Colorful Quinoa and Pecan Salad recipe or prepare a similar version of your own, this dish is always refreshingly full of flavor and colorfully filled with health.
Colorful Quinoa and Pecan Salad
- 3 cups cooked tricolor quinoa*, as directed on package
- 2 cups seedless cucumber, diced with skin
- 1 cup mango, diced
- 1 cup cooked beets**, sliced and divided
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 3 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, cucumber, mango, ½ cup beets, pecans, and hemp seeds. Mix well, top with the remaining beets, and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, sea salt, minced garlic or garlic powder, and cilantro. Mix until emulsified.
- Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve.
Browse my full list of salads that are packed with nutrients and taste.